Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“1 Do you not know, brothers— for I am speaking to men who know the law— that the law has authority over a man only as long as he lives? 2 For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. 3 So then, if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress, even though she marries another man. 4 So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. 5 For when we were controlled by the sinful nature, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in our bodies, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.”
If the phrase “Do you not know” sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because Paul wrote it in our passage from last week (6:16) when he was talking about being a slave to sin. Here he used it again to make the point that we have not only been liberated from the dominion of sin, but also from the regime of the law. He wanted his readers to know that they were released from the law and are now bound to Christ.
So, who’s Paul talking to? Well, both Jewish believers and Gentile Christians who knew the Law of Moses from their time in the synagogue. Douglas Moo believes “Many of the Gentile Christians in Rome had probably been ‘God-fearers,’- that is, Gentiles sympathetic to Judaism but without becoming converts. They would have known the Mosaic law as well as Jewish Christians.” So, they were also more than likely familiar with a popular saying amongst rabbis: “If a person is dead, he is free from the Torah and the fulfilling of the commandments.” (The Torah is what the Jewish people call the first 5 books of the Old Testament.)
In verses 2-3, Paul used an illustration from marriage to show us that just like the woman was set free by her husband’s death to marry again, the believer is free from the law to unite with Christ.
Here is a word of caution: Be careful when thinking about this illustration; don’t try and make it into something it is not saying. Illustrations and analogies have their limits. As Doug Moo says, “Illustrations and analogies rarely walk on all fours.” This is not a principle to apply to marriage. Paul would have been aware of circumstances in which a woman might not be an adulteress if she got married while her husband was still alive; Jewish law allowed for remarriage after a legitimate divorce.
So what’s the point of the illustration? I think Paul simply wanted to show that a death can indeed bring freedom from the law. At the same time, he hinted that such freedom can also lead to a new relationship.
What a great thought—a new relationship—freedom from our sinful nature. Free to live in a new realm. It’s what has already been said earlier, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)”
I can’t help but think of John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” This is what Paul was talking about when he wrote, “We have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit.”
The implication for us is this: When we came to faith in Christ and received eternal life from Him, we were freed from the slavery of sin, legalism, superstition, and what ever else may have bound us—we are free to serve God anew in the way of the Spirit. Don’t let this truth slip from your mind!
Take some time to think about all that you have to do this week. I’m sure you’ve got a pretty full week; that seems to be the norm for all of us these days. So consider this: How can you make sure the reality of your new realm—your freedom in Christ—permeates all you’ve got to accomplish?
*From what you have just read and considered: What is a personal implication/application for your life today?
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.
Inspiration and insight for the devotionals came from the following books: Reading Romans with John Stott; The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World (The Bible Speaks Today Series), Stott, John; Romans (The NIV Application Commentary Book 6) Moo, Douglas J.; Encountering the Book of Romans: A Theological Survey (Encountering Biblical Studies) Moo, Douglas J.; Believers Bible Commentary; The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, with the New International Version, Romans through Galatians; NIV Application Study Bible. The Cambridge Bible Commentary, Romans, Best, Ernest.